Amendment supporter offers best approaches to take in current debate
John Rogers, a lifelong Catholic and married father of two children, was on the opposite side of the church’s position on the Minnesota marriage amendment just two years ago. He was personally opposed to same-sex marriage but felt the Church had no business wading into what he felt was a political issue.
After studying the issue from Christian and secular perspectives, he came to conclude that church teaching on traditional marriage is correct, and both church and state have an interest in preserving marriage between one man and one woman.
He now blogs at Marriage Matters and wants to help those on the side of traditional marriage dialogue with others about their beliefs, especially when the conversation resorts to accusations of bigotry and homophobia.
Rogers spoke at Epiphany in Coon Rapids on “How to discuss the Minnesota marriage amendment with family and friends,” a talk he has given at his own parish, St. Joseph in West St. Paul.
It was the fourth in a series of bi-weekly discussion nights hosted at Epiphany (see box, right) to inform parishioners on the issues surrounding the marriage amendment on which Minnesotans will vote Nov. 6. The series has helped sign up more than 50 volunteers, according to organizers, and has attracted non-parishioners and Protestants from the area.
One of the most important points to remember when talking with “on the fence” Christians, Rogers said, is that Scripture focuses much more on the good of marriage than it does on condemning homosexual acts, so discussions about Sodom and Gomorrah are not effective.
Marriage forms the bookends of Scripture, beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve and ending with the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in the book of Revelation.
“The organization of Scripture tells us that marriage has an integral role in what God wants for his people. Adam and Eve are created as helpmates and partners, and God’s first command is to be fruitful and multiply. In fact, marriage is the relationship that survives the fall of mankind — Adam and Eve leave paradise with marriage intact,” he told the audience.
Throughout the Scriptures, strong marriages are consistently praised, and God rewards faithfulness to him and to each other with the gift of children. In the New Testament, God considers marriage to be so important that he decides to become incarnate within the context of one. Jesus did not drop from the sky as an adult male, he said.
“Scripture’s consistent message is that marriage is the primary relationship of creation. It’s where man and woman become coworkers of God, they literally engage in the act of creation in marriage,” Rogers said. “We’re not here to condemn with this amendment, we’re here to protect and strengthen a good that was in place since the very beginning of time. And while I don’t doubt that charity and self-sacrifice exists in same-sex relationships, they simply aren’t marriages.”
The question, “How can Christians impose their religion on others?” is a fair point given our increasingly pluralistic society, noted Rogers. But even the state has an interest in keeping marriage strong because studies show that children do best when they are raised inside of marriage by their own parents, male and female.
In that situation, he said, children are most likely to grow up and be contributing members of society. The state recognizes that the family is the first and most vital cell of the human society. As such, the government offers certain benefits to incentivize marriage, but these benefits are not rights.
“The focus needs to remain on children. How does this affect children? That’s the number one question to ask people,” he said. “It has far-reaching consequences for us as a society. Before November, we’re going to hear that as long as a child has two loving parents, it doesn’t matter. But research, our lived experience, all religious experiences tell us that children desire a male and female role model, to be loved by both a mom and a dad, and that needs to be protected before any two people’s desire to have their relationship recognized as a marriage.
“If marriage as it stands now provides the best outcomes for children, let’s not take a relationship that is fundamentally different and say it’s the same because when we do that as a society, we lie to ourselves,” he said. “The result is confusion, indifference as to the role of gender, and those who disagree — in our case the Catholic Church — end up getting pushed to the margins and not having a voice.”
Epiphany parishioner Pat Fiereck, who attended with her husband, said she wants to be prepared to defend her position if questions arise, and the talk was helpful.
“I’m truly concerned about same-sex marriage and I don’t have any material, so I wanted to come and see what they had to say so I can do some study on my own, so I can share,” she said.
Rogers said the ballot amendment is an opportunity for the state of Minnesota to have this conversation about marriage, and he is optimistic about the success of it passing.
“Let’s strengthen our own marriages and the marriages of those around us while we’re talking about this,” he said.
Rogers’ talk was filmed by TPT Channel 2, and portions of it will air at 8 p.m. Sept. 28 as part of an hour-long show that examines both sides of the marriage amendment debate.
- What: “Is Doing the Right Thing Wrong: Upholding Traditional Marriage” with Father Francis Hoffman (“Father Rocky”) of Relevant Radio
- When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 12
- Where: Epiphany Catholic Church, 1900 111th Ave., N.W., Coon Rapids
- Cost: Free
- For more information: Call (763) 755-1020